Orange Leaf to leave Commons at end of the year

City officials have agreed to let another restaurant tenant leave The Commons, given the current uncertainty regarding when the eatery could reopen as the pandemic continues.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission has approved a resolution authorizing Devour, LLC, doing business as Orange Leaf, to terminate its lease effective at the end of 2021. The frozen yogurt chain will be the second interior tenant to leave The Commons this year. Subway began formal negotiations about ending its lease in January and left in July, according to city officials.

Commission attorney Stan Gamso said that franchise owner Andy Russell requested ending his lease, as the shop still faces expenses despite being closed. Russell would like to vacate the facility by Dec. 31. The lease would otherwise mature in early 2023.

“The way I wrote the resolution was that either the president, Al (Roszczyk), or his designee — which I assume would be Heather (Pope) or myself — would reach out to Andy, work with him, make sure all the utility obligations and anything he currently has outstanding is paid, along with property taxes,” Gamso added.

Columbus’s first Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt opened in May of 2015. The restaurant filled the vacant space at The Commons left by Snappy Tomato Pizza, which was evicted in January of 2014 after going a year without paying its rent.

Gamso said that Orange Leaf has been “a good tenant.”

“They’ve done a good job,” he said. “They’re a specialty store that worked out perfect, as far as the playground was concerned. Well, then came along the pandemic.”

The Commons has largely remained closed to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the exception of private rental events. The Commons two interior restaurants have been closed since March of 2020. Both were granted continuing rent relief by the commission due to their inability to open, as they have no external entrances.

The Commons’ other two restaurant tenants, Bucceto’s and Luciana’s, also received some rent abatement amid the pandemic. However, unlike Orange Leaf, these restaurants have external entrances and are open for business.

Commons Manager Shanda Sasse said in September that Orange Leaf was also waiting on a reopening date for the Commons indoor playground, which is still under renovation.

“Unfortunately, that’s not resolved,” said Gamso. “They have parts problems, labor problems and so forth. They’re trying to finish that project up. Well, at the same time, we’re not able to reopen The Commons because of that construction project.”